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Artificial intelligence is the latest hot topic. But what is it, does your phone use it and why should you care? Here’s all you need to know

It’s the law of the internet that all articles on artificial intelligence (AI) or AI machine learning must reference Terminators and the end of the world in the first sentence. The more boring introduction is the factual one: AI technology is already woven into our lives and is an essential component of the everyday technology and services we use.

From getting an answer to a simple (or silly) query from our phone’s voice assistants to helping scientists map out DNA to find cures for diseases, the uses are numerous and far-reaching. In the future, these smart algorithms and complex machines are only going to become more central to everything we do.

Want to learn more? Read on to find out everything you need to know and discover how your smartphone may be using AI functionality.

What is AI and how does it work?

To answer what AI is, it’s critical to state what it isn’t. These aren’t machines that are learning independently, discovering emotion and plotting your downfall. Instead, they are complex algorithms that process large amounts of data using a set of defined rules. They may act or respond like a human, but they’re not. In fact, many scientists believe they’ll never gain that level of consciousness. Through different types of machine learning, AI can offer solutions, answer questions or make suggestions on various levels of complexity.

What is generative AI?

The most headline-grabbing AI is generative AI, meaning AI is used to create things such as text, images, art, computer code and more, based on simple prompts. But the term “create” is key. Because remember, AI isn’t thinking – it’s machine learning. Generative AI trawls through the digital world to pull from work that already exists and mash it together, rather than create anything new. This can cause some debate because not everything on the internet is true (we’ve all been sent those links) and there are issues around plagiarism and who owns what.

Do phones use AI?

For some time, AI has been helping to personalise your phone and improve your user experience. Have you ever spoken to your phone to ask for the weather tomorrow at 7am or to open your calendar? That’s AI at work. In fact, Google has created an entirely new way to quickly find exactly what you’re looking for with its Circle to Search feature, available on select Android devices. But it goes further. Standard features like facial recognition, camera functionality (hello Portrait Mode), personalised recommendations or even searching for “cat” in your photos and your device correctly identifying your fluffy friend – that’s all AI. It’s making our smartphones even smarter.

What phones use advanced AI?

There are now new ways to express yourself on Android, with help from AI. For instance, the new Samsung Galaxy S24 5G  with the latest AI-powered experiences on Android. Use Circle to Search*, a new way to search anything on your phone without switching apps.  The Google Pixel and Google Pixel 8 Pro come with AI-powered editing features such as Best Take, allowing users to create the perfect group photo by combining similar photos into one fantastic photo where everyone looks their best.


*Circle to Search available on select premium Android smartphones – the Pixel 8, 8 Pro and the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series – in all languages and locations where they’re available.

Published: 11 March 2024